Last month, a team of HMT staff paid a visit Delhi to meet officials of the Union defence ministry, seeking pending salary of 18 months. They also sought to negotiate a nine-point resolution to the ongoing crisis.
They got the fund transfer...
in their accounts on October 6 providing a huge respite for all 519 employees. Bhagat Singh Koshayriji, MP from Nainital, had played a key role in getting the salaries cleared.
Many of the employees claimed they had been surviving on savings or on borrowed money, from provident funds. They said the savings of a lifetime had been drained by daily expenses, fees for children, health emergencies and other expenses.
In May this year, after a four-member team from the Union defence ministry visited the HMT factory, employees rejoiced that some solution would soon emerge for their crisis.
The team stayed for two days, exploring the possibility of merging the factory with ordinance factories. There was, however, no result announced to that trip by the defence officials, dampening the hopes of protesters.
The staff claimed the factory already had advanced machines to cater to the needs of ordinance projects as they had previously worked on projects of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
They are hopeful and said instead of retirement they would like to continue working, and the campus could be modified into an ordinance factory. They said the machines were already equipped to deal with the change.
With the central government's decision to shut down three units of ailing PSU HMT, workers and officers at Ranibagh HMT factory are working hard for survival. They have not received salaries in the last 18 months, despite approval for it from the government. Apart from Haldwani, there are watch-making units of HMT in Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir and in Bengaluru and Tumkur in Karnataka. The factory was founded by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1985.
The HMT unit at Haldwani is spread over 91 acres and has more than 500 machines, many following the latest technology. There are quarters for workers attached to the factory, where 300 employees live.
The once 'timekeeper of the Nation' will lay off 2,900 of its staff, including 1,091 from its twin-watch units and a bearing factory to turn around its fortunes with 1,600 blue collar workforce.
Earlier, the Centre decided in December to shut down the three loss-making HMT subsidiaries and merge the remaining two into a holding firm. A one-time voluntary retirement scheme, estimated at around Rs 25-55 lakh for each employee, was also being worked out.